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THE RISE OF THE UNIVERSITIES          127

evil great good had come. The life of Western Europe had been
enriched both directly and indirectly by the long conflict through
which it had passed. The sturdy barbarians from the north had
introduced into the populations of all the countries a new strain
of manhood, with a vigorous mentality that responded readily
and freshly to the influence of culture. The Moors, with their
Mohammedan faith and a learning which owed a great deal to
Greek science and philosophy, successfully resisted absorption
and compelled Christendom to rise to a higher intellectual level
in defence of its own faith. Even the Magyars, who had little to
give in the way of new knowledge or inspiration, produced far-
reaching changes in the social life of Central Europe and more
particularly of Italy by causing the rise of fortified cities. These
cities were destined to be the birthplaces of the universities.

Apart from this historical circumstance, the cities of Italy were
in no way unique. As a matter of fact, the formation of large
defensible towns had taken place everywhere; and it involved, a
momentous transformation in the mental attitude of Europe. It
is no exaggeration to say that all that was most characteristic in
medieval life and thought owed its origin to the development of
the towns. In the preceding age individual enterprise and
initiative were almost wholly stifled by the greatness and remote-
ness of the institutions under which ordinary men had to live
their lives; only the few responsible for the exercise of secular
and religious authority could properly be said to enjoy any real
freedom. The rise and growth of the towns altered all that.
Within their walls the citizens acquired an ever-increasing
measure of independence. They formed councils for the manage-
ment of their common affairs, and gilds for the protection and
regulation of their crafts; and with progressive autonomy they
gradually freed themselves from the more irksome of the restraints
imposed on them by their over-lords of Church and State.

The new civic movement quickly made itself felt in the sphere
of education. One effect was a great increase in the number of
schools. With the coming together of people into the stimulating
atmosphere of the towns, there arose a demand for education, and
it was not very long before there were few towns of any size with-
out schools of their own. To all appearance, indeed, these schools
did not differ in any essential respect from the older foundations
associated with the cathedrals and the collegiate churches. Like